Saturday, August 29, 2009

Janet Fredericks' Place to Sit and Imagine

To sit quietly and imagine a healthy planet for our children, our children's children and their children is what I would like to offer the viewers in Nagoya.

I am thinking about creating, with translucent paper panels, a space that one could sit and contemplate the future or present life on the planet. The panels would be about 36" wide and 10+ feet long. They would have subtle map-like imagery drawn and maybe images transfered on them along with printed flow and vine patterns (monotype and woodblock.) Each panel would fold up into a small square that could easily be packed. The hanging arrangement would be four rigid horizontal supports upon which the panel would attach and from that line would go to the ceiling. The paper would be Japanese paper layered and coated with a liquid polymer making it sturdy and flexible. I'll experiment with it this week.

Sophie Hood: Plastic Bag Beginnings

I've decided to work with plastic bags. I've worked with them before, and I just think that they can be a very dynamic material that also takes into account many issues concerning the environment and our influence on the world. Briefly about plastic bags from an environmental stand point:

Plastic Bags:
- cause pollution, kill animals, use up limited resources (petroleum)
- 100 billion plastic bags are used each year in the US - add to that the rest of the world....
- litter the landscape
- kill animals - animals mistake them for food - even after the animal dies, the bag remains..disturbing image
- are non-biodegradable - plastic bags stay 'alive' for 1,000 years.
- petroleum is required to make them

For more info:

So here is some of my brainstorming:

- using plastic bags to ‘create’ creatures that have their own ecosystem – that fits into ours or doesn't.

- using waste plastic to create something new

- plastic bags into living creatures

- waste into ‘art’ – cheap art (thank you Bread and Puppet Theater!), recycled art

Thus, I'm thinking about creating plastic bag creatures. They have their own story, their own purpose. It's interesting and fun to figure out how this imaginary race works - if plastic bags are such an important part of our world, be it negative or positive, how would they fit/behave as a species? What is this connection between humans, waste, the world - how we all fit into the complex web. There is something very interesting about creating art out of waste and seeing the interactions and the questions that are brought up.

The plastic bag culture: This is an endearing culture – it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose. They are almost immortal in the eyes of humans. They are like an ancient race. They are like trees and stones. They move slowly, they age slowly. They are slow. They are always walking, walking forward, but to where? No features, just shape. Movement. A feeling.

I am definitely thinking about a performance piece. It is important that these creatures become 'real.'

Here is a quick mock up of a plastic bag creature and a drawing: The creature is made from ironed plastic bags, cut into strips and sewn/glued together.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Riki Moss bio-combos

I'm still thinking about a 13-14 foot paper tree cut down into modules to be reassembled on site. The attachments get more dicey as the branches get narrow: I'm still working on it. On the right, you can see part of the tree - I'd like to double its impact - next to the 4' tall "graces", a series of curious life forms - to borrow a phrase from Janet Van Fleet - which may or may not go to Japan.

I'm thinking about dropping animal and people masks from the ceiling (the track lighting) that fall around the branches of the tree, suggesting leaves. Or the masks could fall around the base of the tree, (fallen leaves - fallen angels). Or they could pop out from the wall.

Here are some faces of the Graces. These exact pieces may or may not actually go to Japan, but something like them will - curious combos of trees, animals, humans. The bio-morph all star body shop, germinating in the Grand Isle, Vermont, studio. The question is, how to stuff these guys in a 24" x 15' x 15' cardboard box and fly them across the universe.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Janet Van Fleet: Getting going

I am finally getting a firmer sense of what I want to do for the exhibit in Nagoya. I've been thinking about this project using circular forms since last December, when I wrote about it on my blog. But I had ideas in between about working with cut steel, which I would really have liked to do, but it's just too heavy to transport and we have discovered that the gallery can't handle heavy things hanging from the ceiling. Also, I've been thinking that we really should use those nice big walls for something, and not have everything on the floor.

So, it's back to circular forms in a grid, imagery I've been working with for a number of years now. Here's a link to a film called Quantum Entanglement by Gail Marlene Schwartz that uses imagery from one of my larger pieces called Circular Statements. This time, in this context, I think it nicely suggests the web of life, which is what I think about when I think about biodiversity.

Here's a first sketch, using the disks I'd made before, interspersed with buttons. I found that I could hang the grid on the wall with push-pins, which puts it about a centimeter away from the wall. But I can make it stand out farther from the wall by putting a piece of cork behind, which clings to the wall and pushes the disk up, making a larger shadow and a little more movement in the piece. You can also see in this image how the wires in the grid are attached to push-pins on the right. I will need to find out whether this is OK for use on the gallery wall.

So here are some more disks I've been working on over the last few days in the studio. I'm finding that plants, insects, and single-cell organisms are most effective at this scale -- but then they represent the majority of the planet's life-forms. Click on the photo below to see more detail.

I'm imagining having a grid on the wall, maybe across from the doors, about 20 feet long and 36" high, though it could also be a series of smaller grids/webs sprinkled around the wall. The first grid I made (at the top of this post) is a 5-inch grid. But I think I'd like to add some disks that are a little larger (cd's), so Maybe a 6-inch grid would be better. Or something metric! Or a series of diverse sizes and configurations...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thinking About Biodiversity

I almost NEVER have a vacation, but last week I spent 3 days in Montreal with two friends from New Jersey. We went to the Botanical Gardens, and this is a photo of one of the plants, taken by our friend, Mark Edelman. Being among a diverse group of plants from different ecosystems -- rainforest, arid regions, temperate zones -- caused me to to take great joy in the huge variety of plant forms on our planet. Often I think that nature does it so very much better than we artists ever could.